Saturday, October 31, 2009

Que Es Mas Macho?

P!nk: Please, Please Don't Leave Me

or Jacques Brel: Ne Me Quitte Pas (with English subtitles)

Apologies for not embedding - it's disabled.

Cell Size and Scale

Interesting Graphic...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bear cubs purr?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

AZ details...

AZ has been hired - she starts work on November 2.

She will have 30 days vacation per year, plus two weeks off at Christmastime, plus 4 days at Easter, and various other Christian holidays, too.

She says Hi to everyone, she misses us.

She plans to journey to Hyderabad, Delhi, and Kerala in September 2010. We'll have to call her Indie, at least for that month.

Also, don't you think employment suits her?

Monday, October 26, 2009


AZ reports that she's in the process of being hired! Hip Hip! Hurray!

Also, did you know? There's a church tax in Germany?

Thank God for the 1st Amendment!

Veg - Non Veg

VS has some company in her outlook on life.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Does it rain more frequently on the weekend?

Yes! (Along the US East Coast, at least).

Back when chaos theory was in fashion, aficionados used to talk about butterflies flapping their wings over Peking and causing cyclones in Fiji. The study of apparently innocuous events and their effect on the weather has one again come to the fore with researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) finding some interesting correlation between pollution and rainfall.

The study, published in Nature, suggests that rain is most likely to occur along the US Atlantic coast on the weekend and the weather is most likely to be better on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The most obvious culprit is the "natural" cloud-seeding effect created by the massive drift of East Coast pollution, which also follows a well defined weekly cycle. Even Atlantic hurricanes may feel the punch of the workweek, according to the study.

Benford's Law

Today we visit another of those counter-intuitive laws of mathematics, Benford's Law.

Wouldn't you think that the initial digit in in a large set of numbers would follow a random distribution? That's to say, wouldn't 1 as initial digit occur as frequently as 5 or 9?

Turns out, in practice, not to be so. (Although some sets of numbers - like lottery ticket numbers - don't follow the law).

The frequency of a digit n turns out to be f = LOG((n+1)/n), which looks like this:

Details are available at the link above.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

AZ News!

AZ has written from her far away locale to say that she's got two interviews this week. One of them she really likes, and they seem to like her pretty well, too.

Also, she misses us.

Bonne chance (er, viel Glueck), AZ!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boston Terrorist Apprehended

Mass. Man Arrested in Terrorism Case

Da New Yawk Times, By Abby Goodnough & Liz Robbins, October 21

BOSTON — A man living in suburban Boston was arrested on Wednesday on federal terrorism charges of conspiring to attack people at a shopping mall in the United States and two members of the executive branch of the federal government.

The man, Tarek Mehanna, 27, was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The conspiracy occurred from 2001 to 2008, said the acting United States attorney, Michael K. Loucks, at a news conference here Wednesday.

Mr. Loucks said Mr. Mehanna had conspired with others — including Ahmad Abousamra, who has fled to Syria — and had “multiple conversations” to carry out attacks in and outside of the United States.


In May 2008, Mr. Mehanna graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, where his father is a professor of medicinal chemistry. Mr. Mehanna has been living with his parents in the affluent Boston suburb of Sudbury, Mass. He was out on bail from an earlier arrest, in November 2008, at Logan airport, when he was charged with lying to federal investigators in a 2006 interview about a friend and suspected terrorist, Daniel Maldonado.


Mr. Mehanna is the fifth person living in the United States to be arrested on terrorism charges in the past five months, although investigators said that his failed conspiracy was not on the same scale as the two most recent cases.

Sudbury neighbors shocked by terrorism suspect's arrest

Da Bawstin Globe, By John R. Ellement, October 21

SUDBURY – Neighbors said today that terrorism suspect Tarek Mehanna never struck them as someone who had violence in his heart – or in his future.

Cafic Maalouf, 47, who lives down the street from the Mehanna family, said he spoke with Mehanna within the past few weeks as the 27-year-old was cutting the lawn on his family’s home on Fairhaven Circle.

Sometimes, the neighbor said, when you meet people, their eyes provide insight into the type of person they are. Some people, he said, “have this devilish, evilish look in their eyes. He’s not like that,’’ said Maalouf, who is Lebanese-American. “You could see the kindness in his eyes.’’

Paul McManus, who lives directly across Fairhaven circle from the Mehanna family, said he was shocked and stunned to learn of the allegations, especially that Mehanna is being accused of plotting to use automatic weapons on civilians.

“He was everyday normal,’’ McManus said. ”When he was out walking, he was friendly, neighborly.’’


Mehanna lives with his parents on Fairhaven Circle, a cul-de-sac off Hudson road. According to neighbors, his mother is a housewife and his father a professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. Tarek Mehanna was a graduate of that school.

According to another woman who lives on the street, Tarek Mehanna did an internship in the pharmacy at the Walgreen’s drug store in Marlborough within the past few years.
Do we know anyone who wanted to go to Pharmacy school?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Diwali

VS sends along a few paragraphs on Diwali, taken from

Diwali is one of the Indian festivals celebrated all over India, with equal enthusiasm and zeal. The word 'Diwali' is the abbreviation of the Sanskrit word 'Deepavali', which means 'rows of lights'. One of the major Hindu festivals, it is celebrated to commemorate the victory of good over the evil, when Lord Rama defeated Ravana and rescued his wife Sita from his custody. It is predominantly a five-day festival, with a number of customs and rituals followed during each day. People prepare themselves for the festival weeks ahead, by cleaning and decorating their premises.

The main festival day falls on the no-moon day of the dark half of Kartik, according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Celebrated with vigor and gaiety by people of every religion, the magical effect of Diwali creates an atmosphere of joy and festivity. Innumerable lamps are lit on the roofs and windowsills of the houses, thus, giving a divine look to the whole scenario. It is said that Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth, roams the earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean and brightly illuminated. Therefore, people, before exchanging gifts and bursting crackers, offer prayers to the deity.

Young and old, men and women, all dress up in new clothes on this day to illuminate their home with diyas. The deities of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are worshipped on Diwali, after which, the people share sweets and gifts with their relatives and friends. Fireworks, which attract the kids the most, form the highlight of the festival. The festive mood extends to the couple of days following the main day of the festival. Deepawali symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. It is the celebration of victory of good over evil - and the glory of light.

Diwali 2009

Diwali falls on a new moon day in the month of October or November. Since the precise moment of the new moon falls on different dates depending on geographical location, the date of Diwali also depends on one's location. In 2009, Diwali will be celebrated on 17th October.

For the first time, even the President of the US is marking the occasion. As the Washington Post's On Faith blog reports:

Obama Lights White House Diwali Lamp

The Dow Jones reached a significant milestone yesterday, and news outlets were abuzz with excitement. Olympia Snowe's vote for the Baucus bill was plenty fodder for the 24-hour news cycles. But, for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists in the United States, an epochal event transpired at the White House afternoon that should not slip notice.

Lead me from Untruth to Truth.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality.
(from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad -- I.iii.28)

As the ethereal sounds of a Hindu priest's chanting of this Sanskrit prayer from ancient Hindu scripture filled the East Room, President Obama lit the ceremonial White House diya --and he used this Sanskrit word for lamp--with dozens of Asian, Indian and Hindu Americans in attendance. Never before had a sitting U.S. President personally celebrated the Diwali holiday, and with that one gesture, two million Hindu Americans felt a bit more like they belonged--one more reason to feel at home. Maybe that cliche' that all of our diversity adds unique patches to the American quilt is not as tired as we thought.

Diwali is among the most widely celebrated festivals in India and spans all of the Dharmic religious traditions. Rows of diyas, or earthen lamps, line the homes of celebrants as prayers are offered, and for many, a New Year on Hindu calendars is marked. For the seeker, the spiritual significance is clear: the lamps symbolize the quest for knowledge and goodness that mimics the inner Divine and eradicates the darkness of ignorance and false values. As the President said in his address, of course, one does not forget the joyous merriment Diwali celebrations entail: fireworks light up the dark skies of a new moon night, gifts are exchanged and sweets savored.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where is our European Correspondent?

WL is very curious about what she may be up to these days.

Is she traveling? Working? Trying to get RV set up with American TV?

Please correspond!

What is Pepperoni?

It's either:

a) Pork and Beef
b) In the US, Pork and Chicken
c) Cured and Fermented Goat

We think we'll believe option "A".

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Pumpkin Cannon of Ulster County

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

So much for the Cow Rapture

Turns out that the cow hadn't gone anywhere - she fell down where she stood. Seems she broke her leg, much like a certain VP. At least she didn't blame the dog.

She's been moved to just outside the biolab, where she awaits a little reconstructive surgery.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Stolen Cow?

Has the corporate cow been stolen? WL reports that his search of the back of our building has not turned up any evidence of her.

Is this due to some malfeasance of area teenagers?

Did our landlord confiscate her without telling us? Is she on the roof?

Was she raptured - or did someone mistake her for the red heifer?

If you've seen our cow, please let us know.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The IgNobels have been announced

and the award ceremony has been held.

The 2009 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 1, at the 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre.
Among the findings:
VETERINARY MEDICINE PRIZE: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK, for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless.

PEACE PRIZE: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for creating diamonds from liquid — specifically from tequila.

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.
Much more at the link - including video of the ceremonies.

Update: The photo at the top is of a Nobel Laureate, MIT Physics Professor Frank A. Wilczek. He was around for the moon landing, as all the best people were.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Saturday Cat Blogging

Sorry, a day late, but worth it if you're not picky about focus.